default article image

Aspire High Youth Development Program to Inspire, Educate Students

Over 60 adolescent students will be coming to Monmouth University to receive mentorship from Lambda Theta Alpha (LTA) Latin sorority, and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) this Feb. 3   as a part of the Aspire High Youth Development Program.

Students ranging from ten to 17 years old enrolled in program will be joining University students who are in LTA and NCNW for a Saturday of non-traditional learning. They will be learning more about the process to get to college, healthy relationships, proper health care, and financial literacy.

“This [learning] will be achieved through interactive games like jeopardy and other upbeat and exciting opportunities,” said Jaz Caban, a senior criminal justice student and social media manager of LTA. “We want the students to have fun, and we are very excited to be a part of helping them grow and move towards higher education.”

The mission of the Aspire High Youth Development Program is “to develop the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of adolescence ages 10-17 through non-traditional methods of learning that will allow them to gain a sense of social responsibility, identify their personal purpose, acquire exemplary leadership skills, all while discovering their highest potential,” according to the program mission and Lilian Perez, the founder and CEO of the Aspire High Youth Development Program.

Perez is a sister of LTA from the Alpha (meaning first) chapter of this sorority. Monmouth LTA and NCNW members work with representatives of the program, as well as various sectors at Monmouth to develop a meaningful experience for the students when they are on campus.

“We have gotten a lot of support from different departments here,” said Caban. “For example, we are going to be giving away these ‘School of Science and Biology’ highlighters to all of the students, [which] were donated from the biology department, and information about Monmouth from the Office of Admissions.”

“At the conclusion of the event, all participants will receive a parting gift containing fun items including markers, pens, pencils, and literature about Monmouth University. These items are not only great reinforcements from the lessons learned during the Aspire High Youth Development Program, but also, it provides the child’s parents and families with exposure to these types of resources, if they are not already aware of them,” said Gilly Scott, the Advisor for LTA and The Coordinator of Service Learning.

Scott continued, “According to Dr. Halfon, ‘Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,’” quoting a 2015 study. “With this in mind, the sooner younger populations and their families are exposed to college campuses, the more likely college or higher education is in their future.”

The children that are enrolled in this program are students living in economic disparity and are under-privileged and disadvantaged by both household income and size ratio, living conditions, or being of the first generation to move forward into higher education.

“It is really exciting to get to help these students learn more about how to get to college, considering a lot of these kids parents and siblings never went, and generally that means they won’t get either. This program helps provide the kids the tools but literally and educationally to prepare them to move forward into higher education, regardless of their disadvantage,” said Caban.

Monmouth has a similar program to develop under privileged students known as Equal Opportunity Funding (EOF), this program funds students to come to college after a thorough evaluation of the student.

Erica Deweever, a senior business management student said, “being a student at Monmouth through EOF truly changed my life. It is programs like this and Aspire High that are very inspiring to me. There are a lot of bright minds and students with great potential, it is moving to see organizations on campus focus on giving back and fostering that potential into reality of an equal future in higher education.”

“NCNW is extremely excited to collaborate with LTA for this event. We have been trying to bring students from other schools to tour the University for quite some time and we are overjoyed that it is finally coming to pass. Giving back to others and the community is one of the main goals of the club and we are happy we get to participate,” said senior criminal justice student Joe Johnson, the President of the National Council of Negro Women.

 The NCNW has contributed members to be mentors for this event and also also donated the t-shirts for the kids and staff to wear throughout the day. These shirts say “Girl Power” for the female students, and “M Power,” (like empower) for the male students and are uniform with the previous events in this program.

Johnson continued, “I just want to thank all the entities involved in making this event successful. Thank you so much!”

Scott adds, “The Aspire High Youth Development Program is an incredible opportunity that supports children from the local community. This event has two positive outcomes, among many others. First, it provides children from the local communities with a fun opportunity to engage and learn valuable life skills from the women of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated and other leaders from the Monmouth University Community.

Second, it provides these children with an opportunity to see a college campus and explore the possibilities available to them in the future.”